Los Angeles County Elected Leaders Focus on Walking and Bicycling
September 25, 2013 Leave a comment
- Eric Bruins, Planning and Policy Director, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, and
- Jessica Meaney, Southern California Policy Director, Safe Routes to School National Partnership
Last week, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition hosted a breakfast for Los Angeles County elected leaders and key staff from Metro, local cities, and school districts to discuss challenges and opportunities to making LA County more walkable, bikeable and transit-accessible. This was a rare opportunity to bring all three levels of government (Metro, cities, and school districts) into one room to discuss these issues. This convening built upon previous engagements with community-based organizations, researchers, environmental and health advocates, city and county staff to build consensus for transportation policy changes across the region. Like other stakeholders, elected officials at the meeting universally stressed the importance of walking and bicycling to Los Angeles County’s health, environment and economy.
Last week’s conversation is part of a changing story of transportation in Los Angeles County. Metro is rapidly building out the nation’s most ambitious transit capital program and, unlike new freeways, transit has a tremendous potential to be neighborhood focused. Our elected officials recognize that active transportation is the foundation of local mobility and therefore a regional priority.
We were excited to share our research findings with the assembled leaders from Active transportation has historically fallen through the cracks between different agencies for lack of resources, technical capacity, and focus. During our discussion, we heard that Metro, school districts and local cities have unique opportunities and challenges when it comes to active transportation. Only by coordinating and sharing resources can agencies achieve common objectives.
- Board adopted a Sustainable Planning policy, providing a framework to address active transportation, among other sustainability issues
- Local sales taxes provide resources to implement, subject to board discretion
- Metrics and modeling capability to prioritize projects
- First Mile/Last Mile targets investments in strategic transit-oriented areas for maximum benefit
- Countywide reach for education and encouragement
- Can’t do it alone – must partner with local jurisdictions
- Has not historically implemented projects, mostly a funder
- Regionally significant projects require interjurisdictional coordination
School District Opportunities:
- Captive audience for education programs
- Can reach students and parents
School District Challenges:
- Need resources and best practices for education and encouragement programs
- Barriers to walking biking to school extend beyond campus: perceived safety (parents’ perceptions), traffic safety, personal safety
City and County Opportunities:
- Control the public right of way and regulate the built environment
- Police departments enforce safe behavior, particularly around school routes during the morning
City and County Challenges:
- Lack of funding for walking and bicycling investments
- Building local support for changes to public right of way
- Technical knowledge on integrating walking and biking into urban design, land use, and transportation engineering
- Collecting adequate data about bicycle and pedestrian travel behavior
- Targeting education and enforcement to address specific issues and general perceptions
Fortunately, every challenge for one agency matches an opportunity for another. By working together and implementing the recommendations identified in Transportation Finance in Los Angeles County: An Overview (see page 8), we can leverage the incredible investment Metro is making in transportation to build a county that is an even better and safer place to walk and bicycle.
The elected leaders breakfast was one in a series of stakeholder meetings that we’ve held throughout the year. On January 8, 2014, we will hold a meeting to bring together all of those stakeholders to continue to increase coordination and work together to make LA County more walkable and bikeable. Please join us for this very special meeting, which will be held at the California Endowment–all leaders, partners and stakeholders are welcome. For more information about the event or to lend your support, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Metro: Chair Diane Dubois, Directors Pam O’Connor, Mike Bonin, and John Fasana, CEO Art Leahy & staff
- LA County: Offices of Supervisors Molina, and Knabe
- Cities: Bell, Carson, Culver City, Duarte, El Monte, Los Angeles, Lakewood, Lancaster, South Gate, West Hollywood
- School Districts: Azusa Unified School District, Bassett Unified School District, Los Angeles Unified School District, California Latino School Boards Association
- State Legislators: Office of Senator Fran Pavley, Office of Senator Carol Liu
- Other Key Partners: Bike San Gabriel Valley, Pomona Valley Bike Coalition, AARP, Prevention Institute, UCLA Complete Streets Initiative, Kaiser Permanente, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health